I am thrilled to be on the staff of Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamps! I will be teaching for two weeks this June. (And celebrating my birthday during that time as well!) Every summer, this award winning and all-inclusive music Kamp is held at Maryville College in the foothills of the great Smoky Mountains. Make this year YOUR year to get out and pick! I will be teaching ultra beginners of all instruments and am so excited to get you playing with others!
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Monday, January 24, 2022
Chris will not be teaching private lessons on the following dates in 2022:
March 21, 22, 23, 24
April 25, 26, 27, 28
May 23, 24, 25, 26
June 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23
July 18, 19, 20, 21
August 1, 2, 3, 4
September 5, 6, 7, 8
October 10, 11, 12, 13
November 21, 22, 23, 24
December 22, 26, 27, 28, 29
January 2023: 2, 3
Friday, December 31, 2021
Have you ever considered renting to own a musical instrument? Worried your kids won't stick with it and you'll be stuck with an expensive instrument? Think that it's cheaper to rent? You might be surprised at the answer! Since the most commonly rented instruments are from the violin family or band instruments, this short blog is directed towards those two categories of instruments.
As a former music teacher (I taught band and choir in the private school sector for almost 10 years), most of my students never rented a musical instrument for band. I spent the summers helping parents look for instruments and then fixing them up. Many of my students would not have been in band otherwise. The cost of the private school, plus the cost of a musical instrument was just too much, especially for larger families. Most instruments cost my students $50-$100, and these were the name brands all band directors look for: Bundy, Selmer, Vito, Conn, Blessing, Yamaha, etc.
When I opened The Bluegrass Shack, I was determined to never rent musical instruments. It simply is not a cost effective way to own a student level musical instrument. For those that are local and don't need shipping, we have violin outfits starting out at $125 that include the instrument, case & bow -- and a professional setup! For a violin or viola, that setup will cost you at least $100 at most violin shops, and that is what makes the difference between something that is easy to play, and something that is hard or impossible to play. Not to mention an improperly setup stringed instrument will many times not play in tune even if it is in tune. The Bluegrass Shack also has a 100% trade in policy for all violins/fiddles. That allows you to upgrade at any point without losing any of your investment.
We also offer a small selection of used and new band instruments starting at around $100. We don't have the trade-in policy on these instruments, but for a fraction of the cost of renting to own, you can own your instrument.
If your child decides not to play anymore, you won't be out near as much as you would be if you were renting, plus you can sell the instrument and recoup all or most of what you paid for it! Don't want the hassle of selling? Give it away! Donate it to the school or to another child!
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Just in time for Christmas or really for any time you want to try your hand at making a musical instrument! This do-it-yourself soprano ukulele kit is perfect for first timers, and it is only $35! I have a limited number of these left for purchase, but you can pick yours up now until I run out!
Everything you need to make your own ukulele is included, though there are a few additions you might want to consider. What's included? All the parts, including strings and picks, and even some gloves, sandpaper block, glue, screwdriver, tuning machines, and instructions. What additions do I suggest? First off, I have included my own set of revised/additional instructions to go along with the ones that are included because we all know how poorly these things are written by the company. I also suggest the yellow wood glue (it comes with white), stain instead of the colored paints, some additional fine sandpaper, and some heavy duty rubber bands and/or small clamps.
Monday, January 25, 2021
Chris' 2021 Private Lesson Schedule
March 1, 2, 3, 4
April 5, 6, 7, 8
May 10, 11, 12, 13
June 14, 15, 16, 17
July 5, 6, 7, 8, 15
August 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26
September 13, 14, 15, 16
October 18, 19, 20, 21
November 22, 23, 24, 25
December 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30
January 2022: 3, 4
It is important that you understand your lesson time is reserved for you. If you are unable to make a lesson, please me know as soon as possible. If you miss a lesson, you will be expected to pay for that lesson unless you are sick or have a true emergency. If you are missing a lesson because of a birthday party, date, prom, school event, vacation, etc., you will be expected to pay for the missed lesson(s). This has always been store policy, but it has not always been strictly enforced. If you have frequent emergencies or illnesses, we can discuss what the best solution would be. Sometimes I am able to schedule make-up lessons, in which case you would not have to pay for the missed lesson.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
I used a very small chisel to clean up the tunnels in the blocks where the lining will go.
Using a super flexible ruler, I measured the distance in between the cuts in the blocks so I would know how long to cut the lining.
After bending the lining, I had to make sure each piece fit snugly into the "tunnels" and against the ribs.
The linings are made from spruce. They have to be bent to fit the curvature of the ribs and also into the blocks. Each piece of lining has to be dipped into water and then bent on the bending iron. I used a small block of wood to help bend the lining pieces.
I needed about 30 clothespins to clamp the lining to the ribs. The clothespins have to be taken apart and put back together again backwards. A heavy rubber band is wrapped around each clothespin to make it stronger. Rosemary and Emily helped me retrofit all the clothespins!
Hide glue is used on the lining and also on the ribs where the lining will be glued. You have to work fast!
Emily was helping me by holding the form when I was brushing on the glue, and also with the actual clamping.
Using a damp rag, all the excess glue has to be wiped off so the clamps don't stick to the ribs or the mold, and so there is not excess glue everywhere.
Believe it or not, these clamps are so strong some of them took two hands to open them!
Here you can see me readjusting the spacing of the clamps so that there aren't any gaps, especially near the blocks.
This is what it looks like with all the clamps on it!
Here is a closeup of the lining going into the edges of the endblock.
Here is a closeup of the lining going into a corner block. Note how one side goes into the "tunnel," and the other side is just a wedge fit.
Here is the entire form with all the lining done and sanded level with the ribs. Next step is carving the back!
After trimming the ribs with the chisel, I used a rasp to smooth out and level the edge. It should be perfectly straight.
I used a long, thick straight edge to check for high and low spots and warping. It has to be level everywhere: top, bottom, sides, and diagonally. After the board is level, I cut large pieces of sandpaper (from sanding belts) to fit the board. I used coarser grain on one side and finer grain on the other side. The sandpaper was attached to the board using spray adhesive.